How bad are the Browns? It’s NFL Sunday, the Browns at the Bears, and all anyone wants to talk about is the return of Delonte West to the Cavs.
Saturday night the Cavs were up to their old tricks as Delonte made his season debut in a 90-79 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. Mo Williams looked as if he were over his shooting woes, going 9-for-14 for a game- and season-high 24 points, LeBron stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds, and Shaq did a whole lot of nothing. Cleveland hasn’t been this excited about a victory over a lousy team since the Browns beat the Buffalo Bills, 6-3, in the worst NFL game ever. (Hey, a win’s a win, right?)
As excited as we Clevelander’s get over those wins-are-wins, there’s still plenty to worry about with the Cavs. (And we do worry a lot better than we do excited, right?) Even against the Bobcats and Minnesota Timberwolves, Shaquille O’Neal provided just 14 points and 12 rebounds combined. In fact, Zydrunas Ilgauskas has quietly played more minutes (49 to 46) and scored more points (25 to 14) than has Shaq in the last two games. Are the Cavs offensive woes really behind them? They scored 89 against Boston in the opener, then 91 against Toronto the next night, and just 90 against Charlotte.
The Cavs should definitely feel confident heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Washington Wizards. West looked good with 13 points in 24 minutes against the Bobcats. The team is back to .500. Fans are happy again (at least for a couple days). But concern should be bubbling right below the surface. Washington will be a real test of whether the Cavs have actually righted the ship. Three straight years meeting in the playoffs from 2006-2008 and the babbling of DeShawn Stevenson have turned this matchup a bit personal. Remember, the Wizards split with the Cavs last season despite winning just 19 games. Now Gilbert Arenas is back. The Wizards also have a developing story in Andray Blatche, a fifth-year center who is suddenly averaging 21 points and six rebounds a game while shooting 71 percent.
Most likely the Browns won’t provide us with the distraction we would like today. Maybe if they could score more than 10 points a game. Instead, basketball has taken over the headlines. We’ll be thinking ahead to Tuesday night at about halftime of the Browns game.